Monday, January 21, 2013

The Harts and the Marlows in the 1916 Canada Census of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta

I have just discovered that Ancestry considers it “fair use” to use some records, such as census pages, in blogs. I thought I would share today a discovery I made a while back when I was researching the Harts, i.e. the Melvin J. Hart family, the family of my great grandparents and my grandfather, George Hart. I was examining the index of 1916 Canada Census of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta, and could find Melvin and his family, but could not find the Joseph H. Marlow family, i.e. that of my other set of paternal great grandparents. When I went to the actual image of the census page with the Harts, I noticed familiar first names of the Marlows above, such as “Zella” and “Annabel”, and looking more closely, I could see that they were the Marlows. At that point, I had not yet realized that the Marlows and the Harts were neighbours. I was curious to find out why I could not find the Marlows on the index, and soon discovered that they had been mistranscribed as having the surname “Cardow”. This was so far from the correct surname that it would have been very difficult for anyone to find the family on a search. I submitted a correction to Ancestry, and received an email from them thanking me for this.

Here is a section of the 1916 Canada Census of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta showing the Marlow and the Hart families living next to each other near Lougheed, Alberta, Canada:

Courtesy of

(You can click on the image to view it larger). It is easy to see from the handwriting how the surname Marlow could have been mistaken, as the “m” does resemble a “c”, and the “l” like a “d”. You can see that four of the Marlow daughters are missing from the family. Lena Sarah, my grandmother, would have still been in Illinois with her husband George Smith and their family. They were not to come to Canada to stay until 1919. Maud and Dollie were both married with children and living in the area, and Winnifred had died two years earlier in 1914 of typhoid at the age of twenty-two, which is coincidentally the same age at which Dollie was to die in 1919, but from influenza. I am wondering if the Dollie’s death played into Lena Sarah and George’s decision to come to Canada.

It is interesting to note that Melvin Hart and his two sons, George and Alva, became naturalized Canadian citizens in 1908, only three years after coming to Canada from Iowa. This would have also been the same year that their homestead claim was “proven”. It appears that none of them had any intention of moving back to the States. Susan Hart, nee Monk, was born in Ontario so did not need to change citizenship. Their daughter Flora Jane Hart Jeffers was living in Edmonton in 1916 with her husband Roeberry Jeffers and their son Albert. Their other daughter, Lottie Hart Kells, had just married Robert Kells in March, and was living in the Lougheed area with her husband and her sister's son, Charles. I did not include the section about literacy in the image above, but it is also interesting to note that all of the adults were able to read and write except for Melvin Hart’s son Alva, who could neither read nor write. He was to die by a lightning strike in 1922. The farms of the Marlows and the Harts would have been quite different as the Harts were homesteaders, having cleared their own land and built their own homes and barns. The Marlows had purchased a ready-made C.P.R. farm with pre-planted crops. This does not mean that life would have been easy for them, as the C.P.R. houses were notoriously small and inadequate for the weather, and many of the pre-planted crops failed, including the Marlows’ potato crop the first year.

That the Harts and the Marlows were neighbours is significant in my own family history as my grandmother, Lena Sarah Marlow Smith, purchased the Marlow farm after the deaths of her father and husband, which made her the neighbour of my grandfather, George Leslie Hart. This would have brought them closer together, which led to their marriage in 1930, and the subsequent birth of my father.

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